Sump Pump Runs Constantly, This is What the Plumber Says

missmaryAugust 1, 2008

We moved into this house last year, and have been doing water control maintainence on it ever since. The grade for drainage wasn't good, the gutters were ineffective, lots of cracks around the driveway and foundation of house - and since there were two sump pump failures that flooded the basement (with the previous owners), we put in a back up system. We've been fixing all the problems one by one.

This brings me to my situation/question:

One of the most recent upgrades we did was to put in a water powered back up sump pump. Along with this we put in a new "regular" sump pump, just "because". The old one was 4 years old, and we wanted the whole system to be new from here on. We noticed the new sump pump (Liberty brand) runs almost constantly. It comes on and ejects water every minute or two around the clock. We called the plumber back to take a look. While we were standing there at the sump pump, we could hear a constant flow of water going into the hole - which is why the sump pump runs constantly. (We knew the previous one ran a lot, but didn't notice if it ran as much as this one. This one is a little louder, so we hear it more). The plumber remarked to us, as he did when he did the original work, that there is water constantly flowing into the sump pump - "like someone's got a hose pointed into it", and that the sump pump is really just doing it's job. (The sump pump is in the below grade basement).

His idea is that we probably have a leak in a pipe between the street and the house that is flowing directly into the foundation tiles, into the sump pump, and then being ejected. This would be our responsibility to fix, not the city. We haven't noticed a water bill increase, which he says is b/c the leak is before the meter. He told us to check the water in the pump for chlorine. If there is any chlorine, then it's treated water, coming from a pipe from the city, leaking from a broken pipe in our front yard. So, we did the check, and there is like .05 chlorine. (We bought a chlorine check kit at Lowe's). My husband read online that .02 - .05 is the normal amount for chlorinated water.

I told my plumber that I've lived in neighborhoods all over this area for almost 30 years and never saw or heard of having to have front yard pipes replaced. He says his company does them all the time - every day, pretty much. (His company is big).

Is there another possible explanation for why the sump pump has constant water trickling into it, and why it registers as being chlorinated than there is a leaking pipe in the ground of our front yard?????

Any advice on how to be sure before we spend huge money having the yard dug up and pipes replaced??

Miss Mary

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"Is there another possible explanation for why the sump pump has constant water trickling into it, and why it registers as being chlorinated than there is a leaking pipe in the ground of our front yard????? "

A spring under the house, but that doesn't explain the chlorine.

"Any advice on how to be sure before we spend huge money having the yard dug up and pipes replaced?? "

Can you have the city turn the water off at the street? If that reduces the water coming in, you've got it.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 9:50AM
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Where does the sump pump eject too? I would make sure the water is being moved far enough away and down in elevation so there is no chance of it seeping through the ground and returning. I'm a little skeptical that it is the main. You can almost always find some tell tale signs on the surface of a water leak, even if its just the ground is constantly soggy or the grass is greener. My sump runs constantly in the spring (March-May), with a constant stream. Then once it dries up in the summer, it is practically dry until the next spring. I'm always amazed it can have a small stream for months with rain having little impact on the amount, just slow and steady.

I would check with your neighbors and see how much their pumps run. I definately wouldn't dig up the yard without more evidence that this is the problem. Even if it is city water leaking in, it could be the neighbors main, or grey water or an irrigation system, etc.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 3:48PM
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If the leak is before the meter at a pit near the street it is likely the water companies problem and responsibility.
If the meter is in the house you may be on the hook for the pipe.
This type of things varies by area.
Where is the water meter?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:17PM
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Was the problem ever identified and rectified?

I am having the same dilemna at my house. I have lived in this ranch built in 1960 for about a year and a half.

Two weeks ago I noticed the crock was about 3/4 full and the pump wasn't working. I manually lifted the float and the pump ejected the water that was in the crock. I did this for about 5 cycles and was surprised the crock kept taking on water. I eventually burned the pump out and had to bail the crock by hand. I installed a new 1/2HP submersible pump (someone else bailed while I went to Homeless Depot).

The new pump has been cycling twice a minute and the incoming flow is showing no signs of tappering off. I considered a leak in the city water lead to my house but have not noticed any soggy spots in the lawn. I attached a pool hose off the 1-1/2" discharge point outside the house at grade. I ran the pool hose all the way to the ditch at the street to avoid ponding outside the house and further foundation drainage.

I am baffled with this situation as the sump did not run like this last spring at this time, and the pump I replaced looked original.... so it must not have been overworked during the last 48 years. We have not had rain in over 6 days and the crock continues to take on a steady stream of water.

My only thought is the water table has risen and is now at a depth equivalent to my perimeter foundation drains. My neighbors are not experiencing the same problems - and they're houses are relatively at the same grade as mine.

I could replace/add a larger capacity crock.... but I need to get the water to seive before getting into that weekend warrior special.

Any other ideas for potential causes before I have to call in the profesionals to assist?


    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 1:34PM
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Where does the water table come up to? What I mean is if you unplug your sump, how high will the water come to before reaching its natural level?

You might need to move the pump up a little while the water table settles back down. If this is true, I would make sure I had the best backup system and two high quality pumps in the pit at all times.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 10:56PM
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Several of the posts here could be a result of line loading.

To explain line loading is the amount of fluid to fill a line of a given size.
If the line/pipe is higher than the pump what happens is once the pump turns off the fluid flows backwards and out of the pump intake refilling the crock. So basicly the pump comes on again and pumps the fluid it just pumped before. This can happen over and over.
Here is an example of the amount of gallons a 1 1/2" pvc sch 40 line 150 feet long will hold.

Volume 1 ½ " supply(150ft. of 1 1/2") = (150/100) X 9.2=13.8 gallons
Most people seem to prefer the liberty pump, which is a great pump, one of the few that has a 2yr instead of a 1 year warranty. Just fyi the discharge size on a liberty is 1 1/2"

If this may be your problem the fix is easy. Home depot's lowes etc all carry the plumbing fitting thats called a check valve. It only allows fluid to flow in one direction, make sure you know the size of your pipe before you hit the store. When installing your check valve pay close attention to the arrow on the check valve it will point in the directions the fluid is allowed to flow. You will want to make sure the arrow is pointing away from your pump so the fluid can be pumped out but not allowed to flow back in.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 3:29PM
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I have 2 sump pumps that run pretty well. Last year the sewer backed up into my basement. But my problem currently is that I hear a sound of dripping water in the back-up sump pump. It never had a dripping sound. It's not rushing water but enough to get my attention. After what we went thru last year, I don't think I can handle a flood every year. But what could be causing a dripping noise in my back-up sump pump. We had 1 inch of rain today, and about 30 inches of snow this year just to sum it up a bit. What ever help you have will be greatly appreciated. Also what can we do to make the sewer not back up into the basement. We literally clean the sewer water which come from the whole town. The village told me that the sewer pipes stop in my front yard (street). Also the reservoir is next to my house. Rain water looks like a creek through the back yard, the resevoir looks like a small lake. Yes it fills every year to full capacity. Like I said your help would be great. Hope you understand because I'm not sure if I do. I'm just a homemaker. lol. Thank you and have a nice day!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 2:07AM
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"Several of the posts here could be a result of line loading. "

That is why sump drains normally have a check valve installed.

The only water that should drain back is from the small hole made in the drain line to allow water before the check valve to empty back into the pit.

And yes, water comes out of the hole when the pump is running so make it just large enough to do the job.

Around 1/8 inch is often all you need if the water is relatively clean.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 9:01AM
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